The Far-Right Deep-Green Hoo-Ha

The British National Party (BNP) causes much anxiety to today’s mainstream politicians. Almost entirely unable to take the immigration debate head on, Britain’s parties have, for the last few years been wholly mealy-mouthed about their policies. The juggling act between not wanting to be seen to be ‘letting everybody in’ on the one hand, but on the other, not wanting to be seen as illiberal, means that life is made pretty nasty for many people hoping to make a better life here (for whatever reason), while the concerns which express themselves as support for the BNP have gone unaddressed in the hope that they will just wither away.

The BNP isn’t the kind of party we have an iota of sympathy with. But neither do we buy into the idea that its recent apparent increase in popularity is quite as meaningful as it has been portrayed. Its members have been banned from speaking on University campuses, and loud, pointless protests follow wherever they get the chance to speak. The ‘no platform for fascists’ policy of Student Unions and liberal left activists has the unfortunate consequence of closing down free speech and debate. Hmm. Rather like… erm… fascism in the 1930s? (Funny how today’s ‘liberal’ values… aren’t.)

Recently, the party’s membership list was leaked and published on the internet. This has caused problems for people on the list who work in the public sector, such as policemen, who are not allowed to be members of the BNP. More illiberal liberal ‘democratic’ values in operation.

As a Times article last week revealed, several prominent ex-members of the Green Party were on the list.

The party conceded this morning that Keith Bessant, a two-time parliamentary candidate, and Rev John Stanton, a former local party chairman, had defected to the far-right nationalist organisation.

This ought to be surprising, because the Greens have been positioning themselves as the super-liberal’s party of choice. Caroline Lucas, for example, wrote recently that, following the growing disinterest in the main parties,

… the Greens have continued to make progress, but so have the BNP. Our politics of hope are being pitted against their politics of hate and ignorance … the onus is on the Greens to grow faster and ensure positive politics and the opportunity for real change leaves the BNP where they should remain – out in the political cold. To do that, we will need to beat them in every region where they pose a threat, including London, where the BNP won an Assembly seat this year, and the North West region, where Nick Griffin has installed himself as the BNP’s lead candidate.

Greens are supposed to be some kind of opposition to the BNP. But as Rob Johnston at Bad Ecology points out, the distinction between the two parties isn’t as clear as it seems.

Greens agree with the BNP about migration and the green belt. They promise to: minimise the environmental degradation caused by migration; not allow increased net migration; and end the pressure on the Green Belt by reducing population and stopping growth-oriented development. [10] Reduction in non-white tourism and immigration would be an inevitable consequence of government restrictions on air travel. Few refugees from Iraq, Darfur, Zimbabwe manage to get all the way to Britain without a large carbon footprint, neither can tourists from beyond Europe.

We’ve noted before that Green is the colour assumed by parties of all colours that are unable to make a robust argument for their political ideas, Left or Right, Liberal, Conservative, Socialist, Anarchist, or Marxist. It is a curious thing that contemporary Nazis can be found making environmental arguments to support their case in the same way as mainstream politicians. For instance, if you were to type www[dot]nazi[dot]org into your browser, you would find yourself at the website of the Libertarian National Socialist Green Party, whose swastika emblem appears in a white circle, on green, not, as was once the case, red. The website declares that

Green is a fraction of the National Socialist view on land. “Blood and Soil” is our doctrine of homeland, or origin to each person, and thus which ground is sacred to them and they upkeep for generations. Each ethnic group should have a homeland, because in a consensus group one can declare poisoning the earth to be a great offense.

The deep ecology movement restated what the NSDAP believed: that in order for humans to exist without destroying their environment, it had to be placed on equal footing with humans, recognizing in addition that its space requirements were greater as while humans are one species, nature is uncountable interlocked species, creating a codependent, eternal whole.

We digress.

As the Times article continues,

Mr Bessant, who ran for MP as a Green Party candidate in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, in 2001 and 2005, claims to have left the BNP soon after joining.
A spokesman for the Green Party claimed today that Mr Bessant was in the BNP not because he was a racist but because he felt they had better environmental policies. “He formed the opinion that the BNP climate change policy was more radical than ours,” he said.

The claim that Bessant “didn’t hold any racist or bigoted views” is interesting. If you hold that the BNP is wrong because it is racist, then to join it, in spite of its racism is at least as bad as joining it for its racist policies. He might not be a racist, but he nonetheless joined a party that the G-P spokesman believes to be racist, indicating that he didn’t see racism as a reason not to join. The point being that humans, in this view, take second place to the interests of ‘the environment’.

The party also confirmed that a church minister, the Rev John Stanton, from Rochford, Essex, whose name also appeared on the membership list, was once a local Green Party chairman.

Rev Stanton, 76, said he joined the BNP because of immigration concerns. “I am not a racist,” he said. “It’s Islam I don’t like, not Muslims. If a Muslim family moved next door, I would treat them like any other family.”

Mr Stanton, who heads the Rock Dene Christian Fellowship, a house church, at his home with a congregation of 22, also spent four years as a Liberal Democrat councillor in Rochford in the 1990s and five years as a Conservative in the 1970s.

The father-of-four also spent some time as a UKIP member before joining the BNP in 2007.

“I’m dismayed that the list got into the public domain, but these things happen when people get disgruntled,” he said.

The Reverend’s movement from the conservatives, to the Liberals, to the Greens, to the BNP indicates some reluctance to commit himself to a party.

Or is it more the case that green – being the colour of reinvention – is the colour chosen by parties who fail to make arguments for change without the drama provided to them by the idea of environmental catastrophe? The Reverend failed to find a home, perhaps, because the parties he experimented with failed to identify themselves politically. The Green Party, which began life as PEOPLE, formed by disgruntled conservatives in the 1970s, has attracted a rag-bag of misfits in search of a cause, many, if not most of them from the wreckage of the UK radical Left. Disoriented Reds and Blues alike have found refuge in the certainty offered by the prospect of the imminent collapse of the ecosphere.

The way to challenge environmentalism is not to trace its origins back to Nazi Germany (though it is interesting to do so in its own right and it’s also a fun way of annoying Greens). Neither is it productive to cast environmentalism as the re-emergence of the Left. Contemporary environmentalism exists on a new axis. The values they espouse belong neither to the Left, nor Right, but Down.

Now that we can locate Green politics as separate to the Left-Right axis, some self-reflection is called for. Why is it that the parties representing these positions have been unable to sustain their positions? Left or Right, environmental sceptics ought to start taking responsibility for the influence that environmentalism has achieved, and to create political ideas that place humans at the centre of political discussions. Perhaps this new direction should be called ‘Up’.

The Greens and the Bell-Curve

A little article on the Times website caught our eye.

Cleverer children are more likely to vote for the Green Party or the Liberal Democrats in a general election than other parties when they become adults, research suggests. The study, by the University of Edinburgh and the UK Medical Research Council and published in the journal Intelligence, indicates that childhood IQ is as important as social class in determining political allegiance. The IQs of more than 6,000 subjects were recorded at the age of 10, before any secondary schooling. Twenty-four years later they were asked about their voting habits.

This contradicts our experience of Greens. But this is science. So let’s not put our experience above the scientific method.

The Times article is a bit misleading. The abstract of the journal article ( http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.intell.2008.09.00 ) says

People with higher childhood intelligence were more likely to vote in the 2001 election (38% increased prevalence per SD increase in intelligence), and were more likely to vote for the Green Party and the Liberal Democrats (49% and 47% increased prevalence per SD increase in intelligence, respectively). The intelligence-Green party voting association was largely accounted for by occupational social class, the intelligence-Liberal Democrat voting association was not.

So, in fact, the more posh you are, the more likely you are to have voted Green..

When the associations between intelligence test scores and party voting were additionally adjusted for occupational social class, the association with voting for the Green Party was attenuated by 45% (odds ratio of 1.49 changed to 1.27), and was no longer significant.

This must come as a bit of an annoyance to Mark Lynas, who, as we reported earlier in the year, believes that it’s the working class who were interested in his Green chums.

Lynas had said of a poll that,

perhaps the most fascinating result of all emerges from the small print of the different social classes of the ICM survey respondents. Environmentalists are constantly accused of being middle-class lifestyle faddists, who don’t understand the day-to-day financial pressures faced by “ordinary” working people.

The class breakdown of the individuals who participated in the study, and who voted green are as follows: Professional, 9 (11.5%). Managerial/technical, 47 (60.3%). Skilled non-manual, 12 (15.4%). Skilled manual, 7 (9%). Semiskilled, 3 (3.8%). Unskilled, 0 (0%).

The accusations ring true, unfortunately for Lynas.

Nobody would be surprised that social class is reflected in voting preference. And our beef here isn’t even with the silly claim that Greens are more intelligent. What’s odd about this kind of study is that it tries to reduce voting behaviour to absurd metrics. The only way to understand how people vote the way they do is to understand how they engaged with the ideas on offer, not their ability to engage with them.

Not that this is the intentions of the study’s authors (we just think it is a bit silly), but it is a tendency of the environmental movement to look for ways to reduce its opposition to unthinking, unaware consumer-bots in order to legitimise undemocratic and authoritarian policies. Politics is about ideas. Beware politics – and social science – by numbers.

The Queen of the Greens

Ben has an article in today’s Spiked on our favourite Green, Caroline Lucas, who was elected as the Party’s leader last Friday. 

The UK Green Party – formally the Ecology Party (1975-1985), formally PEOPLE (1973-1975) – once rejected the conventional party structure of ‘leader and followers’ in favour of a model of ‘participatory politics’, comprising six ‘principal speakers’.

But discipline soon became an embarrassing issue. David Icke, former footballer and TV presenter, famously failed to represent the party when he was one of its spokesmen, preferring instead to talk about himself as the Son of God. In 1992, the party compromised its idealism to settle on two principal speakers; one male, one female. In a referendum held last November, the party decided that not having a leader was impeding the job of saving the planet. Last week, on 5 September, Caroline Lucas, the party’s member of the European parliament for the south-east region of England, beat her election rival, Ashley Gunstock, by a wide margin, and became the first leader of the Green Party.

These compromises on its constitutional ideals reflect the Green Party’s inability to identify a coherent political perspective.READ ON

First Against the Wall When the Revolution Doesn't Happen…

The Green Party’s other principal speaker is Derek Wall. The party have been unable to decide on a leader over the years (they’re choosing one right at the moment), and so have had two: Caroline Lucas and Derek Wall – one for girls, and one for boys. No, we’re not kidding. Wall doesn’t make it into the media as often as his girly counterpart because he hasn’t had the electoral successes that Lucas has enjoyed. As we said yesterday, in 1999 Lucas won the support of 1.8% of the electorate, and 2.9% in 2004. Hmm. Maybe it’s just because she’s prettier.

Wall is a slightly different kind of Green to Lucas. He makes more noise about his eco-socialism than Lucas, who is more likely to tell you that capitalism will give you cancer. Wall’s blog lays out his stall:

“How to be green? Many people have asked us this important question. It’s really very simple and requires no expert knowledge or complex skills. Here’s the answer. Consume less. Share more. Enjoy life.” […] This blog promotes anti-capitalism, green politics, direct action, practical lifestyle change, Venezuela/Cuba and a touch of Zen. Ecosocialism or muerte!

(Anyone who thought we over-egged the pudding on Sunday for calling the Green Party ‘the party of death’, take note.)

One might expect Wall, allegedly a lecturer in political economy, to have a rather more sophisticated political argument than Lucas. But think again. The ‘Socialist Unity’ blog, for which Wall writes, carries the following image over his latest post.

Oh dear.

Wall’s post comes in the wake of the bizarre spectacle of the UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling, admitting to the Guardian newspaper that ‘people are pissed off with us [the Labour Government]’, and that economic times ahead ‘are arguably the worst they’ve been in 60 years’.

As we have said before, moments from history are often deployed where ideas have run dry

History lends today’s political players crutches to prop themselves up by. Alluding to WWII, public figures demand that we get on a ‘war footing’ to limit our consumption by ‘make do and mend’, as one British public information slogan said. To question this is to demand to be judged by that historical absolute; holocaust denial. To be a denier is, according to the likes of Hansen, to be guilty of ‘crimes against humanity’. The need for such crutches stems from the fact that today’s politicians have no legs to stand on, and environmentalism cannot produce its own history.

Darling puts us on a post-war footing by telling us that we face the worst economic conditions for 60 years. Caroline Lucas with the New Economics Foundation call for a ‘green New Deal‘. The United Nations Development Program’s 400-page Human Development Report on tackling climate change as a development issue begins by quoting Martin Luther King’s ‘Where do we go from here: chaos or community’ speech. [WARNING: BIG PDF]. Al Gore favorably compares himself to JFK by making ‘within ten years’ speeches, even though he holds no office, and has withdrawn from politics.

And Wall compares the Labour Government to Nazis, by using a quote from Mussolini (who was a fascist, not a Nazi), to advance his brand of eco-socialism (which, like the National Socialists is not socialist). There are two things to say about this. First, there is the fact that eco-socialism Wall is selling apparently cannot make a case for itself without the shadow of the swastika hovering above it. Second, Wall’s ‘socialism’ cannot sell itself without the ‘eco’ prefix. Wall calls for ‘eco-socialism or death’. But where the original slogan (‘socialism or death’) might have represented a sincere commitment to the struggle for equality, now it merely stands for ‘balance’ within the biosphere; if we don’t balance it, it kills us.

Wall places himself in contrast to Alistair Darling. But, as the Guardian article reveals, following his appointment, ‘Darling’s life, in his wife’s words, has been “a crisis a week” ever since.’ Mrs Darling understates things. The Labour Government has been in crisis since 1997. Poltics today only survives through generating crisis to avoid its own crises. And in his challenge to Darling’s party, and the mainstream politics which bumbles from crisis to crisis, Derek Wall does nothing other than create more crises – the spectres of Nazism and environmental chaos – because he, just like Darling, lacks any coherent political vision. Without crisis, he would be lost. As his profile on the Green Party website explains:

Dr. Wall describes himself as an eco-socialist, and Green politics as “the politics of survival”, stressing that “unless we build a green economy based on meeting need rather than greed our children face a bleak future. A world dominated by the need for constant growth puts people and the rest nature behind a blind economic system of accumulation”.

But this is fantasy politics. Later on in the profile, we learn that:

Dr. Wall practices Zazen and is influenced by spirituality through “pursuing a pagan appreciation of the living world in a variety of ways”. In Babylon and Beyond, he argues that Zen acts as a guard against utopianism as it “is based on being in the world rather than escaping from it”. He also links anti-capitalism and Zen, stating, based on the work of anthropologist and economist Marshall Sahlins, that “Zen minimises need and provides an alternative road to affluence”.

Hmm. The green hero, Dr. Wall stands against the forces of darkness and their plans to build an empire, by being in tune with the living world… Who does that remind you of?

Star Bores

Yoda.                    Derek Wall

The Party Without People

Caroline Lucas again again. In the New Statesman today, talking about the Green Party’s upcoming leadership contest, she says,

There is another crucial reason why Britain needs Green leadership now. Voter turnout at all elections has been falling. Fewer than one in four people vote in many local elections. Most people simply can’t see any difference between politicians from any of the three main Westminster parties. Minor divergences in economic management emerge from time to time, but the paradigm of privatisation, liberalisation and free market dominance has killed off many progressive policies.

Funny that Lucas should talk about low voter turnout. The motor-mouthed miserablist has benefited enormously from voter apathy, as the results from the last two European elections reveal.

 
1999
2004
Party
Votes
% vote
Seats
% Electorate
Votes
%Vote
Seats
% Electorate
Conservative
661932
44.42
5
11
776370
35.2
4
12.8
UKIP
144514
9.7
1
2.4
431111
19.5
2
7.1
Liberal Democrats
228136
15.31
2
3.8
338342
15.3
2
5.6
Labour
292146
19.61
2
4.8
301398
13.7
1
5
Green Party
110571
7.42
1
1.8
173351
7.9
1
2.9
 
Electorate
6023991
Turnout
24.73%
Electorate
6034549
Turnout
36.78

As we can see, she took 7.42% of the vote in 1999, which amounts to just 1.8% of the electorate. In 2004, she increased her share to 7.9% of the vote, amounting to 2.9% of the electorate. No landslide. And yet it was enough to raise her profile well above any other European MP.

The poor showing at the European elections show how uninterested the public are in the EU. It is because so few people registered their vote that Lucas got a seat. And it is because people are so turned off by mainstream politics that the Green Party poll at all. And it is because mainstream parties cannot connect with the public that they have all turned to environmental concerns. The claim that the major parties are turning to environmentalism because it’s a vote winner defies the cold hard stats: it ain’t a vote winner.

The Relentless Morbidity of Environmentalism

It’s Caroline Lucas again.

Caroline Lucas MEP, who is expected to be elected as the Green Party’s first leader later this week, said: “People will be literally dying from cold this winter while companies like Shell and BP are making record profits – that outrages ordinary people and we need a party that is prepared to stand up about that … rather than having a Labour government that is cowering in a cave and scared of actually speaking out against people in the City.”

Nothing Caroline Lucas ever says is not about death.

Before we look at her morbidity, however, let’s get a couple of things out of the way… Hypothermia is a problem. So is expensive energy. But Lucas is not against expensive energy. Here she is, talking earlier in the year, on BBC Question Time, arguing for higher fuel prices.

[youtube mBTE4w3qIaw]

Curiously, she says we need higher fuel prices to modify our behaviour because ‘the end of cheap oil is over’. Could anything more stupid be said? Not only is the idea of taxing fuel redundant if it is becoming scarcer, the market gave Lucas the higher prices she was after, and now she calls it greedy! Whether it is green taxes, an inexplicable market phenomenon, or scarcity that pushes fuel prices up, it makes no difference. Higher prices mean we can do less, and poorer people bear the brunt. Higher fuel prices means more people dying. Fuel is really very useful stuff.

She is calling for energy companies to be forced to plough some of their profits back into “ensuring that some of the poorest people are able to keep warm”, and attacked Labour for presiding “over a period where we now have Victorian levels of social inequality”.

The Government has been resisting demands for a windfall tax to be levied against the energy companies, arguing that it would make Britain’s energy infrastructure unattractive to investors, just as it really needs upgrading. And who is standing in the way of that? That’s right… Caroline Lucas… who joined the Climate Campers this year, protesting at the proposed site of a new coal-fired power station, Kingsnorth.

Any government which commits to more coal fired power stations – and Kingsnorth is only the start – then claims to be aiming for a massive reduction in carbon emissions by 2020 is quite simply living in a fantasy land. … The Government should be showing real leadership in this debate, with measures to tackle rising energy costs and fuel poverty, as well as initiating major investment in energy efficiency, renewables and decentralised energy. According to its own figures, we could achieve a 30% reduction in energy use in the UK through existing efficiency measures alone.

Increasing efficiency and decentralising power generation is not going to make it more accessible to old people vulnerable to cold weather. Decentralising energy supply will make many people far more vulnerable to the climate. It will also make it vastly more expensive to produce, as the labour and maintenance costs increase. The idea that the market doesn’t exploit efficiency is just as absurd.

Let us put this bluntly, Lucas does not give a toss about old people. Unless, that is, they are dying. People who are dying, or are at risk of dying suddenly become political capital. This is the basis of Lucas’ morbidity. And it is the basis of environmental ethics. We compiled this video earlier in the year. Here is Lucas, in full doom mode, coming to a parliamentary constituency near you…

[youtube Higin1kY3PM]

Environmentalism exploits the vulnerable, because, even if we fail to connect with the idea of eco-apocalypse, we still might respond to the victims Greens claim to speak for. In the framework that the Greens have constructed, the environment is the mechanism through which moral acts are transmitted. The rise of fuel prices (which is a bad thing, unless they are demanding it), according to this thinking, reduces old people’s access to natural resources (partly by inflating the price, but also by standing in the way of renewable energy, which is imagined to be unfailingly equitable, just by itself), leaving them exposed to the cold climate, putting them at risk of hypothermia. Similarly, using fossil fuels is an act of violence against the poor further away, because they will bear the consequences of climate change. There is no room in this framework for a conception of ‘good’, which stands for the elevation of people in any way, such as reducing their vulnerability to climate by technological and economic development. A philosophy so fixated and premised on the idea of catastrophe can only think of things in terms of degrees of bad. Therefore environmentalism’s concern for the poor is predicated solely on their usefulness as victims. Everyone else is a culprit, the best they can achieve is neutrality.

The Green Party are the party of death. It’s all they can talk about, and it’s all they think about. Their unsophisticated reasoning reduces to a morbid fascination; an obsession with cancers, plagues, famines, epidemics, pandemics, chaos, destruction, doom. Political movements in the past have offered ways to overcome the challenges that society and individuals face from the natural world by way of ill-health, shortages, and the elements, but the Green Party represents something very different. Instead of challenging the inevitability of poverty’s consequences to generate support, environmentalism seeks to use the image of these consequences to discipline the public into accepting poverty as inevitable. The thinking is no deeper than “capitalism kills grannies”, “vote for me, or get cancer”, “car-drivers are baby killers” As George Monbiot once put it, “Global warming means that flying across the Atlantic is now as unacceptable as child abuse”. The objective of all this is a kind of ‘balance’ between poverty and somehow everything in the world being totally wonderful. Except that there is nothing positive about the environmentalist’s message. It has nothing to offer. And it is corrosive to any idea that life… and politics… can be about more than mere subsistence.

Green Party Candidate Outed

Peter Tatchell, militant gay rights activist from the 1980s is reinventing himself as a Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for Oxford East. On commentissimplyabsurd, he writes today about a looming global oxygen shortage.

Compared to prehistoric times, the level of oxygen in the earth’s atmosphere has declined by over a third and in polluted cities the decline may be more than 50%. This change in the makeup of the air we breathe has potentially serious implications for our health. Indeed, it could ultimately threaten the survival of human life on earth, according to Roddy Newman, who is drafting a new book, The Oxygen Crisis.

We read this and found ourselves short of breath. But only because we couldn’t stop laughing. And who the hell is Roddy Newman anyway? Tatchell concludes,

Scaremongering? I don’t think so. A reason for doomsaying? Not yet. What is needed is an authoritative evidence-based investigation to ascertain current oxygen levels and what consequences, if any, there are for the long-term wellbeing of our species – and, indeed, of all species.

Green is not in fact merely the new pink. It is the new blue, yellow, black, brown… whatever. It is the colour chosen by anyone who ever nailed their colours to the mast, and found that, over the years, they’ve faded, and now find the need to reinvent themselves.

Still, Tatchell is not the maddest ever high-profile lunatic that the Greens have given a home to. In the early days of the party, David Icke, former footballer and sports TV presenter was their spokesman. Until this happened in 1991

[youtube -29cdosjMUY&hl]

Icke’s views lead to the end of his relationship with the Green Party. The humiliation he suffered after the interview didn’t help what appeared to be a process of separation, not just from the Greens, but reality itself. Still, he reinvented himself as the son of god, and conspiracy theorist second to none, and sold a few books on the way, so it’s hard to have too much sympathy for him.

In the comments section, Tatchell replies to the jibes he surely deserves,

I am coming at this issue from a commonsense perspective, based on some evidence. It is more a case of queries on my part, rather than grand assertions. Raising these issues seem plausible and reasonable to me. Please advise if and how I am mistaken.



The article above was not written as another doomsday scenario. Even if there is a danger from oxygen depletion it is still quiet a long way off. Moreover, I am a great believer that we humans can create solutions to problems – whether those problems are human-made or natural cycles.

Commonsense? Evidence? The ‘evidence’ that Tatchell claims to be in possession of misses something which barely needs repeating here. Air is 21% oxygen. There’s loads of it. And there’s nothing commonsensical about worrying about the end of it. That ought to have given him cause to pause before writing this nonsense. As it happens, it shows exactly how thoroughly you need to ‘understand the issues’ before creating a public role for yourself as somebody who is going to ‘save the planet’. His colleague, ‘Dr’ Caroline Lucas has no firmer grip on the science, yet wheels out similar factoids as incontrovertible evidence for her party’s policies. This group seeks public office, and influences the direction of public policy. As lunatics they provide some good laughs, but the reality is that they are, more often than not, taken seriously.

How has it come to pass that people wearing end-is-nigh sandwich boards have been given such credibility? This question cannot be answered just by looking at environmentalists or environmentalism alone. The answer must lie outside of environmentalism, otherwise we must give these lunatics credit for taking over the asylum that they do not deserve. After all, it is neither popularity nor intellectual power which has swept them to prominence.